Standing out online LinkedIn expert: Kate Paine

by Hannah Johnson

For 25 years, Kate Paine has been in the public relations (PR) and marketing world in Vermont. She has worked for businesses and companies in the private sector and for the non-profit side as well. She enjoyed public relations more because it involves helping people be seen by others for their subject matter experience. Today, this is called spot leadership, which is what we use to identify an expert that knows a certain subject on a deep level.

In 2010, she took on a part-time roll as the executive director of the Women’s Business Owners Network, while also doing PR for her own company, formerly known as Kate Paine Associates. In 2015, Paine changed the name of her company to Kate Paine: Standing Out Online. She changed her business model from doing PR, to helping people promote themselves through telling their own stories and making them relatable to the client.

She focuses on LinkedIn specifically because it is such a great tool for people to use. “LinkedIn can be a great tool whether you’re seeking a job, you are already a business owner and are the face of your business, or for people who are older and have been in a career for a number of years, want to go through a career transition, take all the skills they have learned in one industry and start their own business or go into a completely different industry.” These are the type of people that Paine normally works with.

Working with LinkedIn for so long, Paine is invited into high schools and colleges to talk to students about the platform. “I tell high school juniors and seniors, if you start a LinkedIn profile while you’re looking to go into some kind of post-secondary career whether its college or you’re going into the work force, developing a LinkedIn profile in your junior and senior year, even on a very basic level, is a really smart move.”

By creating a profile early, you already have a foundation that you can continue to build up throughout your life and throughout your schooling. This gives you a place to “live online”. While you’re in high school, you can add what type of sports you are in, the clubs you’re a part of as well as any honors or awards you have received and your class standing. You can then go on to college and replace that with new information when it comes.

Having a LinkedIn profile out of high school can help you get into your dream college. Most colleges will have a team that will search student’s names and see what comes up. You’re LinkedIn profile would be one of the first few suggestions and would give you a step ahead of others that haven’t created one yet.

“The main area in a LinkedIn Profile that is vitally important is the summary section, which is the explanation of who you are and what you do. In the summary section, you have 2000 characters. There is a lot of real estate there that one can use to describe their interests.”

You can use that space to talk about an experience that you had which helped you determine what you’re interested in and what you might major in college. This gives you background and it shows the college or employer something that they wouldn’t see on your resume or cover letter.

The best advice Paine can give to students about creating their profile, is having a quality photo. “A professional photo is a quality, in focus, well lit, picture of you from the neck up. Don’t crop yourself out of a picture with an arm around you from a wedding or a party. I can’t even stress enough how important that is. It’s the only visual that someone gets of you and you want it to be authentic but you want to be professional looking.” In high school, you could use a school photo if that’s taken every year.

Using search terms is also very important when setting up a profile on LinkedIn. Don’t be generic because that makes it harder for people to find you. Use terms that are specific to you and what you want to do and you’re interests. This is especially important to do in the headline. Figure out what you would do to search yourself and use those terms in your headline and summary to help make you more searchable on the internet.

The last important thing that comes with LinkedIn is updating it when you have the information to update with. You can also become more active on LinkedIn by using the newsfeed. You can post on the platform just like you would on Facebook or Twitter. “Try to remind yourself to do that once a week or once every two weeks. Share an article that you are interested in from a professional standpoint or from a college standpoint.”

Keep in mind:

Making a LinkedIn profile early can give you a step up from others and can help you later when you’re in college because most of the hard work will already have been done!

5 Tips for High School Students on LinkedIn

1.) Have a quality photo – having a quality photo can be the difference between you getting accepted for an interview or getting tossed into the no pile. “A quality, in focus, neck up photo that has good lighting” is all you need.

2.) Utilize the Headline – underneath your name you have 120 characters to put a headline. You can use this space to put a fun and quirky but brief story of how you want people to see you. Paine’s headline is “Personal Brand Strategist | LinkedIn Expert | PR Pro | Positioning My Clients as Thought Leaders | Paddleboard Fanatic”

3.) Have a well thought out summary – It tells a story about who you are and what you want to do.

4.) Volunteer work is key – even if you have only done one thing, employers and colleges as well look closely at volunteer work. If you haven’t done anything yet, get out and be active in your community. “It shows your human side”

5.) Ask for recommendations – recommendations go a long way on LinkedIn. Getting a teacher or a coach to write a recommendation will allow others who are looking at your profile to see what other people think of you.